The increase in urbanization of rural areas has led to an increase in traffic on public roads used by the farmers as they move equipment and commodities. Housing developments, small acreage lifestyles and movement to bedroom communities all contribute to more traffic on rural roads. Increasing farm size results in larger farm equipment, non-contiguous fields, and more time for farm equipment on public roads. Rural roads are more dangerous.
Roadway safety has been a major concern of the Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH) producers committee since 2004. In 2005, the I-CASH producers committee developed a list of objectives to improve rural roadway safety including changes in the Driver’s Education manual, exam, and curriculum to include safety issues related to operation of farm machinery on public roads. They also wanted to caution the general public during high farm traffic usage of public roads. Thus an educational campaign called “It’s Preventable” was developed which included press releases, website and e-mail announcements, and an educational card with tips for tractor and motor vehicle drivers.
The cards were distributed to Iowa Driver’s License Stations, Novice and Elderly Driving Instructors, county health departments, rural gas stations, fairs and livestock shows. This activity was supported by a grant from the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau.
The Iowa Departments of Education and Transportation are now in agreement that the Driver’s Education manual, curriculum, and exam need to be revised to include risks associated with driving on rural paved and unpaved roads and slow moving vehicles. A manual for parents of beginning drivers called “You’re the Coach” which existed but was not widely distributed is now given to the parent of every youth who gets a learner’s permit. Driver’s License instructors and parents are encouraged to give youth experience driving on unpaved roads.
Educational Video: Rural Road Crashes: They’re Preventable!
In 2011 a multi-disciplinary task force, led by I-CASH, completed a 10-minute educational video on rural roadway safety to raise awareness of motor vehicle and farm equipment drivers on rural roads (http://www.iowadot.gov/mvd/ods/RuralRoadCrashes.html). The video will be used by Iowa Driver’s License instructors, driving instruction for the older driver, and Iowa Public Service officers, 4-H and others. The video has been mailed to all Iowa County Sheriff’s offices, County Extension, and the Iowa Crime Prevention Association.
If you would like to order this driver safety material, contact Toni Kerkove at Toni.Kerkove@dot.iowa.gov or telephone 641-423-1675.